Last night, Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino and New York Post state editor Fredric Dicker got into what the Post called an "angry confrontation" -- a confrontation that concluded with the candidate threatening the reporter:
It started when Dicker asked Paladino if he had any proof of his shocking allegation that Democratic rival Andrew Cuomo cheated on his former wife during their marriage.
"What evidence do you have for something most people would consider a smear?" Dicker asked.
Instead of responding to Dicker's question, Paladino accused him of sending a "goon" to stake out his former mistress at the home where she lives with their love child.
Sunday's Post featured a front-page story about Paladino's wife, Cathy, and his ex-lover, Suzanne Brady. It included an exclusive interview with Cathy Paladino.
"You send another goon to my daughter's house and I'll take you out, buddy!" Paladino told Dicker.
When Dicker asked how he planned to do that, Paladino replied, "Watch!"
"Are you threatening me?" Dicker asked.
When the candidate's aides jumped in to separate the men, Paladino, referring to Dicker, told them, "F- -k him."
The fight put Fox News' right-wing employees in a tough position: Would they stand with their News Corp. colleague and say that Paladino was out of line? Or would they stand with the Republican Party's gubernatorial candidate?
For Fox hosts Sean Hannity and Mike Huckabee, party solidarity beat out company loyalty.
Discussing the incident on Hannity, Huckabee commented that Dicker "stepped way over the line," adding: "No matter what Carl Paladino said to him that may have seemingly provoked him, it was his professional duty to remain detached and to remain objective. He failed to do that." He went on to criticize Dicker for having "injected himself into the story" and being "unprofessional" and "confrontational."
Huckabee also said of Paladino, "I've never met Carl Paladino but I'll be honest with you Sean, I'm getting where I really like this guy. I like him because he just, he says all the stuff I always wanted to say but never could get away with."
For his part, Hannity acknowledged that Dicker's original question -- what evidence Paladino had for his claim that Cuomo had cheated on his former wife -- "was a legitimate question." But he went on to say that Paladino has a "legitimate complaint" against the Post, adding, "I'm kind of enjoying that he's got the establishment off-balance, and they don't know how to deal with this guy cause he's so outspoken." Hannity did not say whether the Post reporter had a "legitimate complaint" against Paladino after being threatened by him.
Then again, given News Corp's support for the Republican Governor's Association, one could argue that Paladino is almost as close to being Hannity's and Huckabee's colleague as is Dicker.